Bangalore: England’s star batsman Kevin Pietersen will lead Royal Challengers Bangalore in the forthcoming Indian Premier League.

“Kevin Pietersenwill lead Royal Challengers in the IPL and it was a decision that we took after a lot of discussions and when he leaves to fulfill his England commitments, Jacques Kallis will lead the team,” said Vijay Mallya, owner of Royal Challengers Bangalore at a press conferencehere late on Saturday.

Mallya said that the leadership-change was done in consultation with Rahul Dravid, who led the team last year.

“We were in consultation with Dravid and he had personal issues.

“He and his wife are expecting their child and no one knows when a baby is born and Rahul hinted at his likely unavailability.

“Hence there was also the need for Kallis to step in as Pietersen’s replacement in the second half of the IPL season,” Mallya said.

Mallya said that his team which was weak in the batting department last year has gained with the inclusion of Jesse Ryder, Robin Uthappa and other explosive batsmen.

“I believe we are championship contenders and I hope to get the cup to Bangalore,” Mallya said besides lauding Pietersen as well as new coach Ray Jennings’ roles within the team.

Coaches

Meanwhile, RCB CEO Brijesh Patel said that Grant Morgan and Eric Simons will join the team as batting and bowling coaches respectively, while earlier bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad has moved to Chennai Super Kings.

On the issue of the IPL schedule, Mallya said: “There is a BCCI meeting on Sunday and we hope there will be clarity after that.

“There are too many stake holders involved and I don’t think the IPL will be cancelled. Security is the issue here and I don’t think there is any politics involved here.” — Principal Correspondent

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